Table of Contents
ISRN Nursing
Volume 2014, Article ID 802490, 7 pages
Research Article

Challenges of Introducing Participant Observation to Community Health Research

1College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Island Hall 350E, 6300 Ocean Drive, Unit 5805, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA
2Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 21 Lower Kent Ridge Road, Singapore 119077

Received 19 September 2013; Accepted 10 December 2013; Published 15 January 2014

Academic Editors: P. Di Giulio, R. Griffiths, and S. Keeney

Copyright © 2014 Meng Zhao and Yingchun Ji. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Participant observation elicits unique observation data from both an insider’s and an outsider’s perspectives. Despite the growing tendency to adopt participant observation strategies in health care research regarding health-related beliefs and types of behavior, the use of participant observation in current research is mostly limited to structured clinical settings rather than community settings. In this paper, we describe how we use participant observation in a community health research study with Chinese-born immigrant women. We document discrepancies between these women’s beliefs and types of behavior regarding health and health promotion. We further discuss the ethnical, time, and setting challenges in community health research using participant observation. Possible solutions are also discussed.